The Federal Government has issued a 14-day ultimatum to contractors handling road projects that have been abandoned to return to sites or face revocation of the contracts. The government also threatened to drag contractors ganging up against the use of concrete for road construction to the anti-crime agencies, including the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC.
The Minister of Works, Senator Dave Umahi, disclosed this after meeting, behind closed doors, with President Bola Tinubu at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Tuesday. Umahi said he had secured the approval of the President for his plans to use local raw materials for road construction in the country, but added that some contractors benefiting from the importation of substandard bitumen were out to frustrate the government’s policy.
Umahi said some contractors had secured about 20 projects but deployed as few as two units of equipment to the site. He said this was unacceptable and warned that the government would not hesitate to revoke the contracts of such contractors if they failed to mobilise to the site within 14 days.
He said, “I came to Villa to see Mr. President to discuss road infrastructure. I want to thank God because Mr. President approved all my requests. And these requests will renew the hopes of Nigerians for our road sector development; the approvals will rejuvenate proper road construction.
“But let me clarify a number of issues, especially for the benefit of Nigerians and our stakeholders. There has been a kind of campaign by some quick fix contractors and some elements, you know, within who do not wish us well and who want us to continue with the old order.
“But we can’t continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. The truth is that our roads are not good. The truth is that the past government earmarked a number of roads, which Mr. President inherited, close to about 18,897 kilometres of road to the tune of N14 trillion.”
Umahi said the government had devised a mechanism of funding by the ingenuity of President Tinubu, which would ensure funding of about N5.1 trillion, leaving N6 trillion gaps. He said this funding gap was as of May 29, 2023.
He also highlighted the advantages of using concrete for road construction over asphalt or bitumen, including cheaper costs and the need to encourage local production of cement against the importation of bitumen. He said some contractors had keyed into the policy, just as major cement producers had agreed to discount prices for such government road builders.
He said, “Nobody has told them not to use asphalt in their road construction, but we are witnesses to what is going on in the South and South West roads, but you must assure us that the road will not fail in the next 15 years.”
He said he had received reports of some contractors ganging up against the use of concrete for road construction and vowed to expose them to the ICPC and other anti-graft agencies. He said, “We are aware that some people are ganging up against this policy. We are aware that some people are blackmailing us. We are aware that some people are writing petitions against us. But we are not going to succumb.”
He said the government was committed to delivering quality roads that would stand the test of time and serve Nigerians well. He appealed to Nigerians to support the government’s policy and monitor the activities of contractors in their areas.